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by Dave Mosher, Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng            May 21, 2018            (businessinsider.com)

• Scientists think Europa’s ocean might even be habitable to alien life. Jupiter’s icy moon (about the size of Earth’s moon) is hiding an enormous ocean of saltwater. If all of Earth’s water were combined into one, it would be only half as large as Europa’s liquid reservoir.

• “If there’s life at Europa, it’d almost certainly be an independently evolved form of life,” Bob Pappalardo, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Discovering extraterrestrial life would revolutionize our understanding of biology.”

• This Article compares the volume of water on Earth with the volume of water/ice on these other moons and planetoids in the solar system as a precursor for the possibility of sustaining extraterrestrial life. While Enceladus and Dione hold less water than the Earth, Europa, Pluto, Triton, Callisto, Titan, and Ganymede all hold quite a bit more than the Earth.

• Mimas, a moon of Saturn, and Ceres, the largest asteroid in the solar system, might also have subsurface oceans. But scientists aren’t yet sure how big each one might be, if they exist at all.

Earth – The Earth harbors about 1.335 ZL of water, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ZL (zettaliters) equals 1 billion cubic kilometers.

Enceladus – Enceladus is a relatively small moon of Saturn, at just 314 miles in diameter — about as wide as the state of Arizona. It holds 0.04 ZL of water/ice. (Enceladus hold about 3% of the Earth’s volume of water). But its ocean sprays water into space. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft confirmed the ocean’s existence after its arrival in 2004, later detecting and flying through the water plumes to “taste” them.

Triton – Triton is a moon of Neptune that’s some 2.8 billion miles from Earth. It holds 6.73 ZL of water (mostly ice). (Therefore, the Earth holds only 20% of the volume of water/ice on Triton.) Photos made by Voyager 2 show that Triton has “cryovolcanoes” that spew out water and ammonia.

Dione – Dione is a small, icy moon of Saturn. Scientists determined in 2016 that — like Enceladus — Dione likely has a subsurface ocean containing 0.47 ZL of water/ice. (This is 35% of the water volume found on Earth.)

Pluto – Pluto is the famous planet of yesteryear that astronomers agreed to demote to a dwarf planet. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft recently helped determine that Pluto has a liquid ocean packed with ammonia at a volume of 4.3 ZL. (So the Earth holds only 31% of the volume of water/ice that is on Pluto.)

Europa – Europa is the smallest of the four moons of Jupiter and is about the size of Earth’s moon. It likely has a huge, salty ocean containing 2.91 ZL in volume, and shoots jets of its ocean water into space. (So the Earth contains about 46% of the volume of water on Europa.)

Callisto – Callisto, the second-largest moon of Jupiter, is covered in ice, and almost certainly has a vast ocean with a volume of 19.3 ZL. (The Earth contains only about 7% of the water on Callisto.) However, Callisto’s crust is about 125 miles thick which makes it very difficult for scientists to discover what’s going on down there.

Titan – Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second-largest moon in the solar system. Scientists often refer to it as a “proto-Earth” due to its composition and size. A similarly colossal ocean of liquid water may exist below its roughly 60-mile-thick crust of ice, with a total volume of 31.3 ZL. (The Earth’s water volume is only about 4% of the volume of water/ice on Titan.)

Ganymede – Ganymede is the largest of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, and the biggest moon in the solar system. Its stores of water amount to 52.7 ZL. (So the Earth’s water volume is only 2.5% of that on Ganymede.)

 

Scientists recently found even more evidence that Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is hiding an enormous ocean of saltwater.

To say Europa’s ocean is vast would be an understatement. If all of Earth’s water — oceans, lakes, rivers, rain, clouds, and more — were combined into one blob, it’d be just half as large as Europa’s liquid reservoir. (And Europa is about the size of Earth’s moon.)

Scientists think Europa’s ocean might even be habitable to alien life.

“If there’s life at Europa, it’d almost certainly be an independently evolved form of life,” Bob Pappalardo, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, previously told Business Insider. “Would it use DNA or RNA? Would it use the same chemistry to store and use energy? Discovering extraterrestrial life would revolutionize our understanding of biology.”

But Europa is just one of many ocean worlds in the solar system, including Enceladus, Pluto, Titan, and Ganymede.

To figure out how much liquid water and ice these worlds have compared to Earth, Business Insider contacted Steve Vance, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Vance closely monitors research about ocean worlds to create estimates of ice thickness, ocean depth, and other parameters.

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by Lauren Tousignant                  May 10, 2018                (nypost.com)

• On May 7th, NASA’s $100M ‘Breakthrough Listen’ project announced that an enhancement to its CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia will allow it to scan millions of stars across the Milky Way over the next 60 days. The telescope will allow scientists to quickly scan the entire sky rather than one single point of the sky at a time.

• “With these new capabilities, we are scanning our galaxy in unprecedented detail,” said Danny Price, at Breakthrough Listen. “By trawling through these huge datasets for signatures of technological civilizations, we hope to uncover evidence that our planet, among the hundreds of billions in our galaxy, is not the only where intelligent life has arisen.”

• Also, a new bill in the US House of Representatives proposes $10 million a year to NASA to search for signs of extraterrestrial life, searching for technosignatures such as radio transmissions in order to “meet the NASA objective to search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution and future in the universe,” according to the bill. If fully passed, it would mark the first time since 1992 that NASA has received federal funding for the search for extraterrestrial life, and reinstate SETI into the NASA budget.

 

The search for extraterrestrial life is getting extra.

NASA and a project called Breakthrough Listen are both making moves to help boost the chances of finding aliens.

On May 7, Breakthrough Listen announced updates to the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia, that will allow it to scan millions of stars across the Milky Way over the next 60 days.
The $100 million Breakthrough Listen project was founded by a group of scientists, including late physicist Stephen Hawking, in 2016 based on the notion that we should be listening for signs of extraterrestrials — not just looking.

Breakthrough’s previous effort with Parkes only scanned one single point of the sky at a time, with a focus on stars near the sun. But the telescope’s latest updates allow scientists to scan the entire sky at 130 gigabits per second — which is thousands of times the bandwidth of your laptop’s internet connection on its best day.

“With these new capabilities, we are scanning our galaxy in unprecedented detail,” Danny Price, a research fellow at Breakthrough Listen, said in a statement. “By trawling through these huge datasets for signatures of technological civilizations, we hope to uncover evidence that our planet, among the hundreds of billions in our galaxy, is not the only where intelligent life has arisen.”

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

by Sequoyah Kennedy                May 9, 2018                 (mysteriousuniverse.org)

• After analyzing a lunar meteor that fell in the African desert 13 years ago, scientists discovered that the meteor contained large amounts of moganite, a mineral which is only formed in the presence of evaporated alkaline fluids like water.

• Masahiro Kayama, a scientist at Tohoku University in Japan who led the team that made the discovery, believes that this moganite formed when water in the surface dust of the moon was evaporated by the harsh rays of the sun, and says that there is likely more water below the surface.

• Kayama says that the subsurface of the moon may be made of as much as 0.6 percent water, meaning that extraction could yield 6 liters of water for every cubic meter processed. This could be enough that future colonists on the moon wouldn’t need to rely on water from Earth to survive. It could also be used to supply missions to Mars and beyond, and hydrogen could be extracted for rocket fuel.

• Previously, NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite found water near the Moon’s south pole, and India’s Chandrayaan-1 found traces of water in the thin atmosphere surrounding the moon. Perhaps water is far more abundant in our solar system and galaxy-at-large than we’ve always assumed.

 

We often forget how mysterious our moon is. Maybe it’s due to seeing it every night, just hanging out in the sky, predictably waxing and waning. Of all the celestial bodies in our solar system, the moon is probably taken for granted the most. That’s too bad, because the moon is weird, and scientists are making new discoveries about our dear Luna all the time. The latest is that the moon is likely hiding huge amounts of ice under her dusty surface, which could be mined and used as crucial supplies for space exploration and colonization missions.

The discovery was made after analyzing a lunar meteor that fell in the African desert 13 years ago, according to Space.com. Scientists discovered that the meteor fell from the moon containing large amounts of moganite, a mineral close in structure to quartz but which is only formed in the presence of alkaline fluids like water. Specifically, it’s formed in the evaporation of water. Masahiro Kayama, a scientist at Tohoku University in Japan who led the team that made the discovery, believes that this moganite formed when water in the surface dust of the moon was evaporated by the harsh rays of the sun, and says that there is likely more water below the surface:
In a moganite, there is less water, because moganite forms from the evaporation of water. That’s the case on the surface of the moon. But in the subsurface, much water remains as ice, because it’s protected from the sunlight.

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